For a very long time, French was, well, the lingua franca. All courts spoke French, from England to Russia. Everyone else, as always, tried to emulate what the nobles were doing, and learned French if they could.
This made me wonder - what did that mean for bilingual nations? The Quebecois have a unique position in that their side was the losing one, and Canada was an English possession. But they still spoke French, this fancy language of the courts and nobles. Did this ever work in their favour - were they seen (either in Canada or abroad) as more sophisticated than their English-speaking countrymen?
In short, no. The only time les habitants were ever considered superior to the colonialists was when they were under the dominion of the French king. When Wolfe had vanquished the French armies at the Plains of Abraham, it was always assumed that the British would hold domain over these settlers. To prevent further conflicts, the British armies would relocate French colonialists living in Acadia and transported them to Louisiana.
To maintain peace, an act and a treaty was signed by the King: The Treaty of Montreal and the Quebec Act. This allowed the French language to survive in Quebec and allowed their allies (the Mohawk) to control some lands for themselves. Under this arrangement, the narrows of the St. Laurence would be administered in both French and English. However, English would always remain superior.
When Canada entered Confederation in 1867, the importance of British control was contentious. The Tories who descended from the Family Compact ensured that English would be of increasing importance. The key moment that indicated the erosion of the esteem and participation of the French language within Canada was the Manitoba School Question, 1891. The following period up until the death of Premier Ministre Duplessis in 1959 would see several setbacks for the use of the French language.
It is curious to note that between USA and Canada, the trajectory of the role of the French language would switch in 1960. French would be ascendant in Canada while the French dialects of the US (Cajun, Acadian and Paw-Paw) would become endangered under differing educational policies. Only the métis creoles like Mitchif would become extinct in Canada.